State's Yes agenda geared to rid children of real rights
In the Bill, the State took on the role of the parent. It alone would decide what a child needed through experts on its payroll and then decide whether or not the child would get the services called for in their assessment.
If parents disagreed, the Bill created an elaborate appeal process controlled at every stage by the Department of Education. And of course the provisions of the legislation were “subject to available resources”. There were no actual rights to count on, no independence or fairness.
There was just a new level of bureaucracy, financial get-out clauses and many more hoops for children and parents to jump through. The very arguments that the State had used in court and lost were embodied in the Bill.
When we pointed this out we were told that article 42 was still intact so there was nothing to worry about. However, since the Bill was enacted, parents turning to the courts to rely on constitutional guarantees to help their child have found the judicial landscape contaminated.
For example, the Ó Cuanacháins, whose son Seán had the same right to appropriate education under article 42 as Paul O’Donoghue, were largely defeated by the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act.
The court seemed to give weight to the State’s “rights” with its newfound control of special needs services and over children reliant on them and its disempowerment of parents. The State could then close the cheque book and return to the status quo: neglect of children with special needs.
All considered, the 2003/4 “rights campaign” was a success for government and a disaster for children with special needs and their families. Since then children are again being denied services.
Now, in the referendum, the State is again at the same game, sanctimoniously campaigning for “rights” to get rid of real rights. The target is the constitutional rights of children, parents and the family.
To eliminate these real rights, the State is campaigning for the “rights” of abused children, the very children it has grossly failed and still fails to protect. As with the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, what is proposed usurps caring parents, stripping them of the authority to decide what is in the “best interests” of their children. At the same time it limits the State’s responsibilities to children, protects the exchequer with get-out clauses and indemnifies the State from court challenges to their neglect, past and future. In fact it offers reduced protection for abused children.
And to complete the picture we have the same type of cross-party, media, academic and State-funded charity cheerleaders to make the whole fraud credible and ensure its success. Will we, the voters let them get away with it again? Surely not. For the sake of all children, families and the future of Ireland, vote No.
Kathy Sinnott is a former MEP and a member of Alliance of Parents Against the State, which is campaigning for a No vote in the referendum